Thousands of international students enrol in some of the best universities in the UK every year, due to a wide range of benefits that come along with studying in the UK. Arriving in a new country on your own can be challenging, especially if you have never been before. Being caught up in the struggle of getting to know everything and learning your surroundings means you may not be as attentive as you should be when it comes to your belongings and safety. That is why we have compiled a UK safety guide for international students arriving in one of the best study destinations in the UK for the first time. follow through the advice you’re about to read, and you will be quite alright.
Is the UK safe?
The UK is a popular tourist and study destination, attracting millions of visitors every year. Known for its beautiful landmarks and unique personality, there is a lot one can do while visiting the UK. The UK is generally a safe country, being ranked 45th as the safest among 163 countries, with a high state of peace, in the Global Peace Index 2019. Although it’s generally known to be safe, there are things you should keep in mind once you land in the UK. All you should know to, beware of is pickpocketing when you’re in crowded places. In addition, let’s go through a safety guide for more information on how to be a student in a foreign country and get around quite well.
Safety Tips for International Students in the UK
Know the emergency numbers: The emergency numbers are one of the main things you should know when visiting any country, you’re about to reside in. In the UK, you will be able to contact the Ambulance, Fire Department, and Police if you dial 999 or 112.
Secure health insurance: You should ask the health authorities in your home country whether any treatment will be covered for you when you’re in the UK. If you are not entitled to treatment by the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, then you must take out your health insurance before leaving home.
Beware of pickpocketing: Pickpockets are everywhere; however, it’s important to learn their tactics and make sure you keep your belongings safe when in crowded areas. Some of the areas with the most pickpocketing incidents in the UK are Lincolnshire, London, Manchester, and usually urban areas or crowds. Pickpockets often work in teams, so if you notice unusual behaviour, and remember to be cautious. You should make sure to stay attentive everywhere you go, because you don’t want to lose your money or gadgets!
Accommodation safety: If you don’t live in a dorm, then you most likely rent a flat. However, you should keep in mind that you shouldn’t make it easier for burglars to enter by leaving the door or windows open when you go out. Make sure to close the windows (especially if you’re situated in the ground or first floor), and remember to lock the door. Keep your keys and other important belongings in your pockets, since if you lose your bag, you will have them with you.
Keep your belongings in separate places: This is important when it comes to money or credit cards. Keep your money in your wallet but also to make sure to leave some aside in another place as well. Or consider placing cash in the wallet and credit cards elsewhere or vice-versa. Having at least one of them with you in case your wallet gets stolen or lost is invaluable.
Be careful when using ATMs: Simply stay alert when you’re about to use an ATM. Examine your surroundings in case you see anything unusual. If you do, do not use the ATM or invite your friends to stay close to you.
Avoid dark streets during the night: Make sure you don’t walk alone during the night in darkly lit and empty streets. Call a cab or use public transport. It’s always better for you to stay safe. There are also certain online maps that show specific routes you should avoid during the night, but you can ask city guides.
Be careful in crowded places: Pickpocketing incidents are not the only reason why you should be careful in crowded places. For example, in sports events, people might get violent, or someone might start a fight. The same goes for night clubs where intoxicated people are easy targets for muggers. Go with someone you trust!
Is public transport safe in the UK?
Public transport is generally safe in the UK. You can use different modes of transport, such as the railroad system, buses, even taxis. They are a comprehensive, efficient, and a safe way to travel from one place to another.
The Railway System
The railway system in the UK is comprehensive and allows you to reach almost every town by train. It is the oldest railway system in the world, with different companies maintaining the national and regional networks.
In the city of London, one of the quickest ways to travel is by using the underground or overground stations. They are positioned conveniently around the city, and you can get the tickets in the stations, through automatic machines or vendors.
Coaches and Buses
One less expensive way of traveling around would be by buses or coaches, although you would have to wait a little longer for them than you would for a train. For example, the famous red double-decker bus would be worth it in the sense that you would get around the city as well as enjoy the view.
There are two types of taxis in England, those with meters that can be hailed in the street as well as minicabs, a cheaper alternative which you must call by phone (however, you must make sure you are calling licensed minicabs, since those from unlicensed providers are potentially unsafe). Taxis are an efficient way to travel from one point to the other if you have a lot of luggage or want to get somewhere faster. They are not available everywhere in the UK, however they are available in the biggest towns and cities.
All in all, the UK is a safe country with low levels of violence and street crime. Nevertheless, you should always apply common sense and be aware of all the safety measures you can take in order to avoid being victim of either pick-pocketing, theft, or violence.
Advice for Women Studying Abroad in UK
The first piece of advice for women studying abroad in UK would be to stay informed and read about the country you will reside in, beforehand. However, just like any other country in the world, even the country Shakespeare was born is prone to certain risks. That is, as an international student, you should always be attentive of your surroundings, making sure you won’t get lost – since the UK is quite large. The crime rate in the UK keeps decreasing and with that in mind, as well as the excellence of UK universities, be ensured you have chosen quite a special academic destination to spend your students years in.
Studying abroad is an ideal opportunity for a student who wants to broaden their horizons and is aiming towards academic excellence and development. The UK has proven to be a marvelous academic destination for internationals arriving from all around the world. In the academic year 2017/18, the number of international students enrolled in UK universities reached 458,490; and the numbers just keep growing. The UK is the second most favored place of study for internationals after the US. Thousands of internationals enroll each year in some of UK’s top universities. Among them, thousands of women who have decided to make UK their new niche.
So, let’s learn just how to make a niche out of this great country! Here are some things you should know if you’re a woman arriving in the UK for her studies. Keeping in mind that, generally, the UK is safe for women.
1. Know the customs
Different countries have different cultures. And each country can be different from your hometown, in the sense that the gender roles can be different, the culture will surely be different, and you’re simply going to need time to get used to your surroundings. The United Kingdom is diverse culturally and the people might be different than most familiar faces you’re used to seeing in your home country every day. Certain social gestures might make you appear more ‘interested’ than you want to be when you are simply trying to be nice. Try to understand the people you meet, their interests, and stay alert of any misunderstandings.
2. Be aware
Make sure you stay aware of your surroundings all the time. You never know what people may have in mind. Also, keep your belongings, like cell phones or money, near you. Just like in other countries, pickpocket related risks are evident in the UK also. Being in crowded places can make pickpocketing possible, so you should be aware while you’re using the underground or other crowded places, especially during rush hours. Pickpockets may have different strategies such as working in pairs, groups, or even distracting you. Simply remain cautious.
3. Be careful when dating
Dating can be fun, and we are not saying you shouldn’t go out on dates. However, you should be careful with who you go out on dates with. Simply make sure your friends know where you are going or when you will be back. Keep your cell phone close and you will be fine. Risks are always a possibility, not just only in the UK, since you never know what people could be thinking. it’s important to always try to make smart decisions.
4. Know who to turn to for help
In case you feel unsafe, in any situation, make sure you know the emergency numbers. In the UK, you can contact the police by calling 999 to report emergencies or by calling 101 for non-emergencies. Tell the on-site staff about any sort of sexual harassment or risk. They will know what to do. Do not feel obligated to talk to people in a polite manner if they are bothering you. Bluntly tell them not to bother you anymore.
As soon as you arrive in the UK, make sure to locate the nearest police station and hospital. Although you will learn where most things/places are with the passage of time, it is important to know some of them as soon as possible.
5. Be careful when going to bars/clubs
It’s important to be careful during your nights out. As much as this piece of advice is important for women, it is also important for men also. Going to clubs and bars might seem harmless, however, it’s essential to stay cautious. Make sure you go with someone you trust.
6. Remember to stay informed
Although most routes in the UK are safe to walk during the night, make sure you avoid certain darkly lit neighbourhoods or streets that just do not appear safe. There are certain maps of UK streets that tell you which areas you should avoid late at night, so it is advised to check with them before you go anyplace alone during the night.